CSPAV Tools Will Help Atlanta Visualize Growth

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The Center for Spatial Planning Analytics and Visualization has completed a multiyear effort to provide a toolkit for the City of Atlanta to use to visualize the impact of growth on employment, city policies, and more.

The toolkit was delivered to the city’s Planning Department in June 2018. It is among CSPAV’s growing portfolio of research and community-based projects that push the boundaries of computational data mining, spatial mapping through web services, geovisualization, and spatial representations.

According to Tony Giarrusso, associate director of the Center, the project started after Georgia Tech grad Ryan Gravel (B.S. ARCH, 1995; M.ARCH and MCRP, 1999) asked Giarrusso if the Center could create an interactive tool that allows for dynamic three-dimensional visualization of growth in the city.

At that time Gravel was doing contract work for the city as Director of Design. He helped to get the initiative started in 2016, according to Giarrusso. He said Gravel wanted a way to quickly visualize in three dimensions the effects of different population and employment growth scenarios. Gravel now runs his own private consulting firm.

The project website offers an overview of the design scenarios developed for the city and links to the three main planning tools intended for use by city staff. Documentation and reference material supplement static tutorial manuals, and a brief demonstration video showcases the capability of the tools.

The early phase deliverables include a city infrastructure database containing tangible and intangible assets, design scenarios exploring potential population and economic growth outcomes, and scenarios chosen to direct development efficiently.

The three online applications were customized to provide the most useful suite of planning tools. The apps were built using a combination of 2D and 3D geospatial and remote sensing data. They provide renderings of the current cityscape and allow users to visualize changes in the city with different planning policies.

The tools can be found on the Atlanta City Design (ACD) website, which hosts the Atlanta Interactive Design (AID), City Viewer, and City Editor applications.

The Atlanta Interactive Design application allows users to explore different growth scenarios and build-out possibilities, and view resulting statistics.

The City Viewer allows users to visualize buildings based on height, volume, growth type and texture.

The City Editor offers an editing tool for the creation, change, and visualization of potential buildings in the city.

The tools were created by Gordon Zhang, a research scientist at CSPAV and the 2017-2018 research scientists of the year in the College of Design.

Besides Giarrusso, who is a senior research scientist in the Center, Director Subhro Guhathakurta worked on the project, serving as principal investigator. The Center’s IMAGINE Lab helped construct the 3D building facades.

This project showcases CSPAV research connecting cutting edge cloud solutions to traditional planning problems, and can increase productivity and availability of digital tools and location-based assets accessed through a user friendly web-based interface.


  • Workflow Status: Published
  • Created By: Malrey Head
  • Created: 08/08/2018
  • Modified By: Malrey Head
  • Modified: 08/23/2018


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